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Press release

Punk Fashion Is Focus of Costume Institute Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 9–August 14, 2013

PUNK: Chaos to Couture

Gala Benefit May 6, 2013, with Honorary Chair Beyoncé and Co-Chairs Rooney Mara,
Lauren Santo Domingo, Riccardo Tisci, and Anna Wintour

Member Previews: May 7–8
Exhibition location: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall
Press preview: Monday, May 6, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

PUNK: Chaos to Couture, organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, examines punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the 1970s through its continuing influence today. The exhibition is on view from May 9 through August 14 at the Museum.

The exhibition is made possible by Moda Operandi.

Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

“Punk’s signature mixing of references was fueled by artistic developments such as Dada and postmodernism,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “so it makes sense to present this exhibition in a museum that also shows the broader output of those movements. Indeed, that dialogue between art and fashion is what makes The Costume Institute so singular. Projects like this don’t happen without sponsorship, and we greatly appreciate the generosity of Moda Operandi, and its co-founders Áslaug Magnúsdóttir and Lauren Santo Domingo.”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Museum's Costume Institute Benefit takes place on Monday, May 6, 2013. For the second year, red carpet arrivals will be live streamed beginning at 7 p.m. on,,, and Beyoncé serves as Honorary Chair. Co-Chairs are Academy Award© nominated actress Rooney Mara; Lauren Santo Domingo, Co-Founder of Moda Operandi; Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director of Givenchy; and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. This fundraising event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

“Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute. “Although punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy, designers continue to appropriate punk’s aesthetic vocabulary to capture its youthful rebelliousness and aggressive forcefulness.”

The Exhibition
The exhibition, in the Museum’s second-floor Cantor galleries, features approximately 100 designs for men and women. A few iconic punk garments from the mid-1970s are juxtaposed with recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear have borrowed punk’s visual symbols, with paillettes being replaced with safety pins, feathers with razor blades, and bugle beads with studs. Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of 'do-it-yourself' and the couture concept of 'made-to-measure,' the exhibition is organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Presented as an immersive multimedia experience, the clothes are animated with vintage videos and soundscaping audio techniques.

Organized thematically, each of the seven galleries has footage of designated punk ‘heroes’ who embody the broader concepts behind the fashions on view. The first gallery is devoted to CBGB in New York City, represented by Blondie, Richard Hell, and Patti Smith. Opposite is a gallery inspired by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Seditionaries boutique at 430 King’s Road in London, and between the two is Clothes for Heroes, embodied by a slow motion video of Jordan. This gallery examines designers who extend the visual language of punk, as it was originally articulated by McLaren and Westwood, by merging social realism with artistic expression.

Do-it-yourself, punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion, is explored in the four final galleries: D.I.Y. Hardware, focusing on couture’s use of studs, spikes, chains, zippers, padlocks, safety pins, and razor blades, with Sid Vicious as its icon; D.I.Y. Bricolage, highlighting the impact of punk’s ethos of customization on high fashion, including the use of recycled materials from trash and consumer culture, as epitomized by Wayne County; D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop, exploring punk’s tradition of provocation and confrontation through images and text exemplified by The Clash; and D.I.Y. Destroy, examining the effect of punk’s rip-it-to-shreds spirit, typified by Johnny Rotten, via torn and shredded garments associated with deconstructionism.

Designers in the exhibition include Miguel Adrover, Thom Browne, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Hussein Chalayan, Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Christophe Decarnin (Balmain), Ann Demeulemeester, Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Dolce and Gabbana), John Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Katharine Hamnett, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Christopher Kane, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Franco Moschino and Rossella Jardini (Moschino), Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte), Miuccia Prada, Gareth Pugh, Zandra Rhodes, Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Stephen Sprouse, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), Gianni Versace, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, and Vivienne Westwood.

The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, in the Met’s Costume Institute. Photographer Nick Knight is the exhibition’s creative consultant working with exhibition design consultant Sam Gainsbury (who was creative director for the Met’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition in 2011) and production designer Gideon Ponte (a set and production designer for photo shoots and feature films including Buffalo 66 and American Psycho). All mannequin head treatments and masks are designed by Guido Palau, who also created treatments for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and last year’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.

The design for the 2013 Costume Institute gala benefit is created by Nick Knight, Sam Gainsbury, and Gideon Ponte with Raul Avila, who has produced the benefit décor since 2007. Additional funding for the gala benefit is provided by Givenchy.

Related Catalogue and Programs
A book, Punk: Chaos to Couture, by Andrew Bolton, with an introduction by Jon Savage, and prefaces by Richard Hell and John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), accompanies the exhibition. This publication is illustrated with photographs of vintage punks and high fashion. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $45 catalogue (hard cover only) is distributed worldwide by Yale University Press.

A series of programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, including a Sunday at the Met discussion on the origins of punk with Glenn O'Brien, Jon Savage, and Roberta Bayley on June 16; a gallery conversation with Vivien Goldman and Curator Ian Alteveer on July 26; and performances by Liars on May 18; and by So Percussion as well as Man Forever on June 8; a studio workshop on July 20; and related gallery talks in the Museum’s permanent collection. For more information, please visit

The Museum’s website,, features special, in-depth features on the exhibition.

Follow us on and to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala benefit. Use #PunkFashion and #MetGala on Twitter.


May 9, 2013

Left: Sid Vicious, 1977. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Dennis Morris - all rights reserved
Right: Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), 2011. Vogue, March 2011. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by David Sims.

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